A bear is attacking a hiker. A blue-bag monster is rising from the ground like a wave and a truck is sprouting a head.
These are just a few of the sculptures rising up in Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria in preparation for its annual emerging artist showcase. The exhibition opens on Sunday and runs through the end of March, but guests can go even now and see artists busily constructing their masterpieces.
Justin Thompson’s “Brutus Jones” is so much more than a huge rusty truck with a face attached to a battering ram, Thompson explained.
“[It’s] a mobile sculptural performance venue,” he said.
The flatbed is outfitted with many speakers set to project the music of the Baritone Sax Army and the Elite Marching Band of Queens, scheduled to perform with Thompson on opening day.
The strange truck also has many Queens ties. The design emulates the style of the Astoria neighborhood Ravenswood created by the nabe’s founding architect Alexander Jackson Davis. Davis also designed the Virginia residence of the biggest slaveholder in the United States.
“My work seeks to deepen the discussions around cultural and racial stratification,” Thompson said.
The head is a portrait of Paul Robeson, who played the lead role in the 1933 film “The Emperor Jones,” shot in Astoria, about an African-American man who goes to prison for killing a man and escapes to a Caribbean island where he becomes emperor.
The Peekskill, NY native, who spends his time between the U.S. and Italy, also brings in other elements such as ancient Roman battering rams and “do-it-yourself” sound techniques from Jamaica.
The pieces in the exhibition don’t stick to a theme, which becomes immediately clear upon visitors’ first steps into the park. Instead the artworks seek to embody each artist’S individuality.
Myung Gyun You created the biggest piece in the park with a 26-foot-tall horn that partly resembles the Cookie Monster in color and vaguely looks like anything from the depth of your imagination from elephant to horn, mountain and possibly any other landmass from hill to cliff.
Thordis Adalsteinsdottir brought to life many hikers’ fear in the literally titled “Bear Eats Man.”
It’s terrifying and comical all in one very cool sculpture and begs the question “Why is this hiker naked?”
Socrates commissioned 15 artists through a rigorous application process and since then that group has worked at the park to prepare for the exhibition.
There’s a pool filled with grass, a tree that’s not really a tree, a giant red horn with a yellow middle that would make Mickey D’s proud — but the color palette is where the similarity to the fast-food mega chain stops — an obstacle course that will be the playground for a challenge from 4 to 5 p.m. on opening day and several other new, bizarre and wonderful sculptures.
When: Sept. 8 through March 30, 10 a.m. to sunset
Where: Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd, Astoria
Tickets: Free, socratessculpturepark.org